KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's important to be an advocate for yourself in the doctor's office, especially when it comes to breast cancer.
Survivors and fighter agree, pushing for answers and correct care can save your life.
Dressed in a powerful shade of pink, Tosha Colquitt shows how she is a fighter. She's a wife and mother of two: an 18-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.
She's strong at home, at work and at the hospital.
"I was diagnosed in July with triple negative breast cancer," Colquitt said. "I found a lump at home with a self check."
Colquitt said she hadn't been to her OB in about 18 months during the pandemic, and had the thought to do a check in the shower. She found a lump about the size of a half dollar.
She got into the doctor's office the next week and started treatment the week after that.
“It's very stressful not knowing, but once you find out, it's even more stressful because you know that you have to work toward getting something done about it, not knowing if it's going to work," Colquitt said. "It's scary.”
At 36, her perspective on life shifted.
"Somebody my age, you just don't imagine hearing the word cancer," Colquitt said. "It doesn't discriminate at all. It's tough, and I didn't realize how many women go through it until I was diagnosed."
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With her aggressive form of breast cancer and a treatment plan, her first doctor gave her little hope.
"Before I felt like I was just given my death sentence and here you go," Colquitt said.
She started going to Tennessee Cancer Specialists after advice from the online support group Breast Connect.
That community gave her the confidence to speak up when she felt lost.
"It's just an outpouring, wonderful group, there's always somebody there that's been through that, and they're always there to lend the ear, a shoulder, advice," Colquitt said.
Now, her outlook is much brighter.
"It's been a process but we're we're starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel with it," Colquitt said.
Her family is her biggest support system. Her daughter goes with her to chemo appointments and her husband often wears pink and a pin that says, "Real men love bald women."
"I just want to be able to watch my kids grow up," Colquitt said. "I just want to be here for my mom and my husband and my family, and it's a fight and I'm just glad I have my faith."
She sees her strength in every appointment, test and treatment. She praises her team at Tennessee Cancer Specialists and knows she couldn't face the road to recovery without the advice, understand and knowledge she has gained.
Colquitt encourages everyone to do their self checks and stand up for yourself when you feel something isn't right. She's glad she did.
For more information about the local group Breast Connect, go to breastconnect.org and https://www.facebook.com/groups/breastconnect/.